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Warriors close in on Ulster

Sat, 23 Feb 2013 06:10
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We take a look at all Friday's matches
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Niko Matawalu inspired Glasgow Warriors as they closed the gap on Pro12 leaders Ulster with an attritional 20-14 win in a gripping top of the table clash.

In other Friday action a double from Willie Faloon handed Connacht back-to-back Pro12 victories for the first time since April as the province prevailed 26-22 against Cardiff Blues.

And two tries from Morgan Allen helped the Ospreys to their seventh straight Pro12 win at the Liberty Stadium and restored them to the top four with a 24-7 win over Edinburgh.

We take a look at all Friday's matches!

Cardiff Blues 22-26 Connacht

A double from Willie Faloon handed Connacht back-to-back Pro12 victories for the first time since April as the province prevailed 26-22 against Cardiff Blues.

Faloon's two tries, added to Danie Poolman's early effort and 11 points from Miah Nikora, secured just a second away win of the season for Eric Elwood's side, who are now up to eighth in the Pro12 table.

It's a third win in 20 matches over the Blues for Connacht and a first at the Arms Park since 2001. For the Blues, it's now just one win in seven at their home ground in the Pro12 this year.

Poolman again demonstrated he is a fast starter and two weeks after scoring against the Scarlets inside the first minute, it took him just two to open Connacht's account.

The South African burst over for his fifth try of the Pro12 season but fly-half Nikora, a late replacement for former Blue Dan Parks, failed with his conversion attempt.

Cardiff were shell-shocked and the visitors took full advantage, scoring their second try of the night with the match just five minutes old.

This time it was flanker Faloon who scored his second try in as many matches before Nikora nailed the conversion to hand Connacht a healthy 12-0 lead.

Slowly but surely the Blues worked their way back into the match and Rhys Patchell opened the hosts' account with a seventh-minute penalty.

With a foothold in the match, the Blues came back at Connacht and trimmed the deficit to just four midway through the first half with winger Harry Robinson finishing off the try following a scrum on the visitors' five-metre line.

But ten minutes later, Connacht stretched their lead again when Blues indiscipline handed Nikora the simplest of penalties in front of the posts, just ten metres out - and the Kiwi duly converted.

Patchell was then given a tricky chance to respond in kind from the halfway line but the 19-year-old's kick was short and wide, ensuring Connacht went into the half-time interval 15-8 to the good.

Cardiff began the second half the stronger and were handed a route back into the match when Connacht hooker Jason Wright-Harris was shown a yellow card on 47 minutes after he was penalised for being offside.

Patchell was on target with his second penalty of the evening to again bring the Blues to within a score of the lead and the Blues set about making their numerical advantage count.

Five minutes later, Patchell brought his side to within just a point of the visitors as Connacht's defence - stoic in the first half - became desperate in the second.

Much to the annoyance of the Cardiff Arms Park faithful however, Nikora was the next on the scoresheet after the Blues were pinged at the scrum inside their own 22 on 56 minutes before Patchell missed another for the hosts soon after.

But with 20 minutes remaining, Robin Copeland forced his way over and dotted down to give Cardiff the lead for the first time in the match, only for Patchell to miss the conversion, meaning the hosts' lead was just one.

Back came Connacht however and they retook the lead when Faloon grabbed his second score of the night on 64 minutes before Patchell slotted a penalty three minutes later ensuring Connacht led by a solitary point.

But with four minutes remaining, up stepped Nikora to nail a superb penalty, giving Connacht the breathing space they needed to close out the victory.

The scorers:

Cardiff Blues:
Tries:
Copeland, Robinson
Pens: Patchell 4

Connacht:
Tries:
Faloon, Nikora, Poolman
Con: Nikora
Pens: Nikora 3

Teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Chris Czekaj, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Richard Smith, 12 Gavin Evans (captain), 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Rory Watts-Jones, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 James Down, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Benoit Bourrust, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Taufa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Luke Hamilton, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Jason Tovey.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (captain), 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Brian Murphy, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 TJ Anderson, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Matthew Jarvis.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Jason Langdon (Wales)

Glasgow Warriors 20-14 Ulster

Niko Matawalu inspired Glasgow Warriors as they closed the gap on Pro12 leaders Ulster with an attritional 20-14 win in a gripping top of the table clash.

The victory avenged the 18-10 defeat in Belfast last year and stretched Gregor Townsend's side's winning streak to six games.

It was only the third league defeat of the season for Mark Anscombe's team and it trims their advantage at the summit to just three points.

Ulster's Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar gave the visitors an early lead with a sixth-minute penalty but it wasn't long before Glasgow lock Tim Swinson continued his scoring run.

The 26-year old bagged a double in their last outing against Newport Dragons and capitalised on an overlap to give the hosts a 15th-minute advantage.

Pienaar threaded the posts again as the game stayed tight before a sublime bit of skill turned the match back in Glasgow's favour.

Scrum half Niko Matawalu, who won man of the match for the fourth straight game, was at the centre of all the home side's creative endeavour and he provided the killer pass which Tommy Seymour grasped to crash over the line, establishing a lead they then never lost.

Glasgow repelled a lengthy spell of Ulster pressure, Pienaar missing a penalty before full-back Peter Murchie increased the hosts' advantage just seconds after half-time following a charge down.

But for the third time Horne missed the conversion, a statistic some feared might be telling after Pienaar kept the visitors within a converted score with his third well-taken penalty.

Glasgow lost Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe to a head injury early in the half as Ulster worked hard to impose their authority on proceedings.

Robbie Diack finally broke the hosts' resolve after a solid spell of domination, only for the referee to call play back for a forward pass.

But Ulster were now starting to sense their rivals were feeling the tiring effects of their increasingly desperate defending.

And, in the 67th minute, the pressure finally told when centre Stuart Olding crashed over in the corner for his first senior try.

But Pienaar missed the conversion from a tight angle to maintain Glasgow's lead at a solitary point with just 13 minutes remaining.

Ulster were now in the ascendancy but another moment of brilliance involving Matawalu established the Scottish side's decisive advantage and secured an all-important bonus fourth try point.

He finished off a move that started with some clever work by Horne inside his own half but the score went unconverted to keep things close and edgy heading into the closing minutes.

The scorers:

Glasgow Warriors:
Tries:
Murchie, Seymour, Swinson, Matawalu

Ulster:
Try:
Olding
Pens: Pienaar 3

Teams:

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Peter Horne, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Ryan Wilson (captain), 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Ed Kalman, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ofa Fainga'anuku.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Luke Pettie, 18 Garry Mountford, 19 Nick Campbell, 20 James Eddie, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Scott Wight, 23 Graeme Morrison.

Ulster: 15 Ricky Andrew, 14 Michael Allen, 13 Andrew Trimble, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Neil Walsh, 10 Paddy Wallace, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Ali Birch, 6 Conor Joyce, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Neil McComb, 3 John Afoa (captain), 2 Nigel Brady, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Ricky Lutton, 18 Andrew Warwick, 19 Alan O'Connor, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Darren Cave, 23 Chris Cochrane.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: David Changleng (Scotland), Adrian Graves (Scotland)
TMO: Iain Ramage (Scotland)

Ospreys 24-7 Edinburgh

Two tries from Morgan Allen helped the Ospreys to their seventh straight Pro12 win at the Liberty Stadium and restored them to the top four with a 24-7 win over Edinburgh.

The No.8 put in a man-of-the-match performance and struck twice early on to give the Welsh side a lead they never surrendered, ensuring a first win over Scottish opposition this season.

But defeat for Edinburgh, who had Nick De Luca sent off late on for a tip tackle on Tom Grabham, means they remain winless in the league since a trip to Connacht on December 1.

The Ospreys made the perfect start to the evening when they surged forward and Allen crossed the whitewash following a cute offload from Jonathan Thomas. Fly-half Matthew Morgan added the extras and the home side found themselves 7-0 up after five minutes.

Edinburgh had the chance to reduce the deficit on 12 minutes when the Ospreys were penalised for not releasing after a break by centre Ben Atiga, but fly-half Harry Leonard was wayward off the tee.

And the Ospreys kept their try line intact despite several sniping attacks from close range, led by De Luca and Leonard as Edinburgh tried to build some pressure.

Ospreys gradually worked their way upfield and their second try on 21 minutes was a repeat of the first, Allen touching down from close range after a penalty was kicked to touch. Morgan made no mistake with the conversion to give his side a 14-point lead.

Ospreys threw wave after wave of attacks at the Edinburgh defence in the last ten minutes of the first half, with the visitors' tackle count mounting ever higher.

But on the stroke of half-time 21-year-old debutant Hamish Watson brought Edinburgh back into the game when he finished off a flowing backs move on the left after a great break down the other flank from Netani Talei and Dougie Fife.

Leonard added the extras to half the deficit, but Morgan was given an easy chance to strike back immediately with a penalty in front of the Edinburgh posts only to snatch at the chance and send it wide.

Edinburgh had the first shot at goal after the break on 43 minutes when Cai Griffiths was pinged for not rolling away from the tackle, but Leonard missed the left hand upright by inches.

After a frantic ten minutes during which possession shifted from side to side Morgan was given the chance to add to the Ospreys lead after Edinburgh were again penalised for hands in the ruck. But the 20-year-old half-back's effort faded away across the posts and the gap remained at seven points.

But he made it third time lucky from close range after Edinburgh were pinged at the scrum to give the Ospreys some breathing space. The visitors' job was made harder by the sin-binning of Atiga, who tried to play the ball on the floor.

And the one-man advantage paid immediate dividends after Richard Fussell led a quick break down the left, the ball was recycled quickly and scrumhalf Rhys Webb dotted down from the base of the ruck. Morgan added the extras and suddenly the Ospreys looked comfortable at 24-7.

The error count mounted as the Ospreys went in search of a bonus point in the latter stages, opting to keep the ball alive rather than kick for the posts.

With four minutes remaining De Luca upended Grabham near the left touchline giving referee David Wilkinson no option but to reach for the red card.

Ashley Beck was stopped two metres short of the Edinburgh line but his offload out of the back of the hand went to an Edinburgh player late on as the bonus point proved elusive for the Ospreys.

The scorers:

Ospreys:
Tries:
Webb, Allen 2
Cons: Morgan 3
Pen: Morgan

Edinburgh:
Try:
Watson
Con: Leonard

Teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Habberfield, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Jonathan Spratt, 11 Kahn Fotuali'i (captain), 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 James King, 5 Jonathan Thomas, 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Cai Griffiths, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Sam Williams, 20 George Stowers, 21 Arthur Ellis, 22 Ashley Beck, 23 Tom Grabham

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Sean Cox (captain), 4 Perry Parker, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Steven Lawrie, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Andy Titterrell, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Alex Allan, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Chris Leck, 21 Piers Francis, 22 Ben Cairns, 23 Tom Brown.

Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Alan Jenkins (Wales)
TMO: Paul Adams (Wales)

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